Strengthening postgraduate research training in Aquatic Science in East Africa

  • Institutional Strengthening
  • 99.813 project budget
  • Jul 2020 - Dec 2021
  • Partners: UoE, AAU, UoR, UE
  • Donor: Stichting IHE Delft
  • Donor Programme: DGIS - UNESCO-IHE Programmatic Coorperation II
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa

This projet intends to support and strengthen the network of East African partners around our joint MSc programme in Limnology and Wetland Management (LWM) in mentoring postgraduate field research projects to enhance the quality of the research, provide more adequate hands-on research training and strengthen existing curricula on aquatic ecosystems. In addition to working with LWM partners, the team wants to expand the collaboration by involving other regional universities and knowledge institutions who play a role in student research training. The LWM programme has been training international MSc students (mostly from East Africa) in research and sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems (lakes, rivers, wetlands) for improving sustainable livelihoods, food security, environmental quality and resilience to climate change. National universities in East Africa also have MSc-programmes in water and environmental sciences. Graduates are generally employed by government, NGOs or the private sector in the areas of water management, environment, and education. Hands-on field research during the thesis phase of the LWM programme is a key part of equipping students with the skills needed to be effective and successful water and environmental science professionals. It provides experience needed to put theory to practice, on-the-ground problem solving, and overall critical thinking. For the Europe-based partners in the LWM programme it is not possible to mentor field research projects in Africa on a day-to-day basis. This project helps to enable our African partners to fill this role and thereby strengthen partnerships with IHE Delft and improve the quality of field supervision for MSc participants. The team wants to support and strengthen African partners in this role by consolidating their knowledge and experience in the LWM programme. In addition to this, the team expect that in the future the international post-graduate training programmes in water and ecosystems will increasingly have a blended character, in which part of the programme is conducted online and participants will complete a larger part of their programme in their own country. This will increase the role of regional partners in the research training and justifies strengthening of the curriculum in this area. Some of the partner universities are already active in strengthening their capacity. For example Addis Abeba university conducted training in research ethics and grant proposal writing in collaboration with the University of Gothenburg. The current proposal on supervision training is in line with these efforts. Project activities will be developed in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya. In these countries the team will develop training content for hands-on field research training, develop the capacity of local partners in mentoring of student research projects, implement a first round of student training, and fund several student research projects. Field research will take place in catchments in these three countries, usually in field stations or other locations which allow easy access to remote river, lake and wetland sites. Change is expected to materialize at two levels. At the level of the partnership, the existing joint LWM MSc programme, which is a collaboration between European (IHE Delft, BOKU) and African (Egerton University) education partners, will be strengthened both by improving its content (field research training) and by developing and expanding collaboration with regional research partners in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya. By including other local universities and knowledge institutions in the training programme, the LWM network will be strengthened and expanded, and collaboration between African research partners supported. At the level of the individuals involved, the project aims at an improvement of the quality of the learning experience for participants. The LWM programme consists of a 6-month research phase that gives the students an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained during the theoretical part of the programme, which strengthens their practical skills and leads to deeper and broader understanding. Elaborating a thesis also helps developing many of the meta-competencies that water professionals need in their jobs, such as reporting, working together in a multi-disciplinary setting, and communicating results. As a result of the hands-on training, graduates are ready to offer high-quality skills for future employers. Staff at the partner institutions will also experience change because they will strengthen their supervision skills for student research, which will benefit not only the LWM programme but also help elevate the quality of education at the partner universities.

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